A short list of short stories for busy Cambridge life

Nine short stories worth reading


As the new term begins in Cambridge, our schedules begin to fill up again with academic affairs – and the bookworms among us are disappointed with the lack of time to read.

But do not fear – we have searched and compiled a list of the best short stories for you to check out in your limited free time – completely commitment free as you could finish them in one sitting. And for those of you with a bit more time (Englings, obviously), this list will also include some short story collections.

So here it is – a short list of short stories:

1. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – F. Scott Fitzgerald

The list begins with one of the most famous stories of the Jazz Age. Written by the author of The Great Gatsby, it tells the story of a man who ages backwards. Born with the appearance of an 80-year-old, he struggles through life- and as expected, his life turns out to be very eventful.

2. The Nose – Nikolai Gogol

The next short story is equally as strange – if not stranger – than the first. It tells the story of Major Kovalyov – a middle ranked civil servant, whose nose decides to live his life independently. Touching on the themes of class, appearances and identity, it makes a great read. MML students who study Russian could even pair their reading hours with studying by attempting to read the original Russian text.

3. The Martian Chronicles – Ray Bradbury

The next entry on this list is not quite a short story but instead a collection of many. The sci-fi lovers among you will particularly appreciate this book – it's a collection of loosely connected stories about colonising Mars. This would take more commitment than the other stories on this list – but that only means the enjoyment will last longer!

4. Tell Tale Heart – Edgar Allen Poe

Venturing into the horror territory, we have the Tell-Tale Heart. We follow a paranoid narrator who attempts to convince us of his sanity – however, the further he gets into his narrative, the more we begin to think quite the opposite. This Gothic piece of literature is guaranteed to unnerve you – if that's what you are looking for.

5. The Last Wish – Andrzej Sapkowski

Made popular by the recent Netflix adaption, this collection follows a monster hunter for hire and a few of his adventures. If you are looking for something with a Game of Thrones vibe but don't want to commit yourself to a full saga, this is a great pick. And, if by the end you are left wanting more, there are further books in the collection.

6. The Outsider (The Stranger) – Albert Camus

This is a bit of a longer read – but is definitely worth it! You are taken into the mind of Meursault – a nihilistic man, who seems to be indifferent to everything occurring around him. While on a trip, his “friend” runs into a conflict with a group of people, and the action escalates. The story details all the experiences and thoughts of the protagonist throughout. While not for everyone, I'm sure many will find this fairly philosophical text fascinating.

7. The Egg

This very short story is a detailed log of a conversation between two beings, one of whom appears to be a God. They converse about the nature of a life after death. It is a perfect way to unwind at the of the day. It is both a peaceful, serene read, and a very thought-provoking one. The best part is – if you are too exhausted from hours in the library – there are plenty of video adaptions of YouTube, so you don't even have to read it! (Kurzgesagt’s version is particularly good.)

8. The Lady with a Dog – Anton Chekhov

This is yet another opportunity for MML students to practice their Russian. This time, we get to follow the affair of two lovers. Their unhappy lives are changed when they meet each other – however, there are obstacles in the path of their love, one of which is marriage. Furthermore, the circumstances they live in make it hard for them to be together. What begins as a classic love story turns out to be a thought-provoking parable.

9. The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The final entry on the list will seem, at first, like a childish fairy tale. However, as you dive deeper into it, you will discover that is actually a very philosophical text with some autobiographical elements. The tale touches on many themes, such a growing-up, friendship and loss. I doubt there's ever been anyone reading this story who has not, at least, been lightly touched by it.

(Image source: Pixabay